Sorry I haven’t been able to stay in touch but we were on Lockdown again! Yeah, 26 days last month and already half of this month. No, we haven’t suddenly turned into a bunch of violent undesirables, well, no more than usual 🙂 the difference is we have a new Warden. What does that mean? Well, let me say that there are two types of Lockdowns, 1) for Security Reasons. When something happens, which it always does in this kind of environment, you lock the yard down to let things cool off and to investigate the potential of some sort of retaliation; completely legitimate. 2) Is a Punishment Lockdown. This happens when staff lets the normal prison BS get, personal, like “How dare they do this”, or “I’m going to show them who’s boss”; completely illogical and actually, immature. Our new Warden seems to be one of those who takes things personal. Not good, none of this shit is personal … took me 20 years to figure that out. Hope she learns quicker than me 🙂 Anyway, let this serve as a reminder to you, IF, you don’t hear from me ever now and then, I’m probably on Lockdown … no, not for something I DID, but for something someone else did.
A Poet Dreams: a prisoners search for meaning
In 2008 I wrote a book called “A Poet Dream”, my son Chris paid to have it published by Xlibras. In this book I chronicled my first twelve years in prison, a time when I was trying to survive and find some reason for my life. No, I didn’t try to blame others or to feel sorry for myself, that wasn’t my intention when I wrote that book. As crazy as it will seem to you, I somehow intuited that even as a prisoner, a LIFER, that I had to find a purpose, and, this book is about how I began a quest to identify what that purpose might be.
On my quest to understand me, and the decisions I had made in my life, I began a series of spiritual studies and practices that would probably hair-lip the Pope and cause most Baptist Ministers to declare me as “Going straight to Hell,” in fact, some of the so-called Christian FRIENDS of mine, in here, won’t even read it, so be warned – I literally left no stone unturned, from New Age/Christianity to Hinduism, from the Occult to the teachings of the Buddha; I consumed any and all knowledge as it presented itself to me.
As I began to write this book about these experiences, much to my surprise, a sequence of events, an undeniable set of steps were clearly and identifiably apparent to me … I could see how, over a twelve year period, I had, by way of these 7 steps, improved myself, not only as an individual, but as a citizen of a world. As a result of this quest I recognized that there is something bigger and far more important than me. The problem was, I also recognized that no one, absolutely no one, wants to hear some prisoner talk about God, hell, I don’t want to hear about it, so I damn sure recognize that you don’t either. But the reality is, I’m a spiritual person, so when I wrote this book I tried to insure that the reader would understand that I ain’t a Bible Thumper, that I ain’t for or against any one or their particular choice of religion … in fact you could even say that I am, anti-religion … sort of. Faced with this dilemma of how to talk about my spiritual journey without sounding like a hypocrite I created a scenario where some of what I wrote was true, and some of it fiction; dirt to fill the hole of my story, per se. But I wanted my reader to feel my heart, and my heart as you know, is with my family. How to make these things clear and still tell my story, became the question.
Over those first twelve years in prison I stayed in contact with Teresa, my wife. In our conversations I began to imagine the mess I left behind, for her to deal with. No, she never once blamed me, or complained, she thought only about my safety; she went to great lengths to NOT tell me about her struggles; to not worry me. However, over the years, and in conversations between us I would pick up little tid-bits of things, of struggles, of her suffering and of her overcoming the life she had been, through no fault of her own, left with.
As I wrote this book I simply could not ignore the one thing no other prisoner-written books touched on, this being the wreck in which we leave our spouses when arrested. In order to tell HER story, as I imagined it from our conversations over the phone, I wrote a series of small but powerful stories about her and how she had survived, raised our children and subsequently grew beyond and apart from me … sort of a parallel experience to my own story.
So, here it was, 2008, and I had the remnants of what I considered a purposeful, honest and maybe uncomfortable story and a son committed to making my dream of printing it a reality. However, there was one problem, one missing element – it needed editing. Yes, of course I could do it, but having no computer to work with meant it would need to be handwritten and then typed, then sent out to someone on the outside to put it together with the PDF file that Xlibras offered. And, I had no one willing to do the work. Finally, I asked my daughter to contact someone we knew and to ask them IF they would do the editing. Months went by, nothing, months went by again, nothing, almost a year later I receive a copy of the finished book in the mail.
When I received my copy I was so proud, very happy. Then, as I began to read it I saw that it was full of errors, obviously NOT edited at all … and to make matters worse, all of the small chapters about my wife were missing – all of them. She had decided, without my approval or notification, that they were offensive and disrespectful to my wife. Point is: it was a bad book, not recommended for public consumption … I was … ashamed of it.
Ten years this book was available for purchase and for ten years I dreamed of a way to fix it.
Towards the end of last year (2019) I decided to act. I dug out my original manuscript and went to work. Next I photocopied every page of the original book I had received those years past and sent it to a prisoner assistance service out of Missouri. Then I went line by line and edited the entire book and emailed it and some new work to Sue, who runs this prisoner help service; Sue had the PDF file from Xlibras. She went line by line, page by page and made the corrections I had outlined; she also did, with my permission, editing of her own, “You’re in good hands, Mark” she said. Point is we, her and I, along with some help from my friend Keera in Canada, not to mention a new influx of money from both my sons, Marco and Chris … have finally, to my satisfaction, produced a palatable book. Yes, I reinstated the “Prison Widow” chapters; the stories about my wife. In addition to them I added about 100 pages of new material updating my story though the year 2013. And, I’m proud to tell you, this book is available in both hard copy and E-book form … also, check out the painting on the cover. Yep I did it!
Like I said, I like it … but, like I said, some of the things I’ve written about will cause some of you to doubt my salvation, lol, don’t, it is intact. Another point of interest is, that I have included some of the events that happened while I was Mayor of Ingleside, things you DEFINITELY don’t know … yeah, I’ve been pretty quiet about those years, but some of it just needed to be told. So read this book and please go on you’re FB and talk it up with your friends; I really want to get this story told … A message for you haters out there, “I do not receive any of the proceeds of my books or art work” so, in the words of Jesus, “Take stick that in your ass and smoke it!”
What? … you don’t think Jesus said that? … OH, no dummy, not Jeeee-sus, Jesus, … Hey-sues, Jesus – yeah, an old friend of my, Jesus Rodriguez said that! sorry for the confusion; Ok, I’ll do a ten, Hail Mary’s 😉
Peace be with you each and everyone of you!
Three Rivers, 2-20-20